Mango's A19/800lm LED Bulb Roundup (updated for 2017)

April 8th, 2017 No comments

We decided to compare the top bulbs from the top manufacturers.  We chose candidates by looking at results from internet polls, and comparing them with bulbs easy to find at national retailers.  Here is a summary of our tests, ranked in our order of preference.  All the bulbs we tested are A19 shape, around 800 lumens, and either 2700K or 3000K.  The bulbs are Energy Star rated, unless noted.

Philips 9.5W Warm Glow (Home Depot)
As usual, a Philips light bulb is in first place for our favourite.  This is a pretty great bulb that dimmed silently with a trailing-edge (ELV) dimmer or very quietly with a leading edge dimmer.  Not only did it dim smoothly with no flicker, its colour temperature dropped just like an incandescent bulb.  Barely-detectable EMI.  This bulb used to be expensive but a recent price drop makes this bulb very affordable.

Hyperikon 9.5W 2700K High CRI (Amazon.ca)
This is a decent bulb that dimmed with no flicker or buzz on our trailing-edge (ELV) dimmer, and with no flicker and very quietly on our leading-edge dimmer.  Its startup delay when fully dimmed was noticeable, but not annoying.  One of the few bulbs available in a 4000K colour temperature.

Luminus 10W 3000K High CRI (Costco)
This bulb's dimming performance is mediocre - we noticed flickering at levels below 33% (trailing-edge ELV dimmer) or 25% (leading-edge dimmer) and buzzing at all levels with the leading-edge dimmer.  With the low-end trim adjusted to eliminate the flicker, the bulb didn't have much of a dimming range.  However, it looks great and is silent when not connected to a dimmer.  We recommend this bulb over its 9.5W non-dimmable cousin which has an annoying sporadic flicker.  This 3000K looks very obviously different from 2700k, so don't expect to mix them in the same fixture or even the same room.

Sylvania 8.5W 2700k non-dimmable (Canadian Tire)
If you want an affordable 2700k bulb that looks good and isn't dimmable, go for this one.  $5 is on the expensive side for a non-dimmable bulb, but the light produced by this looks closer to the light produced by a tungsten bulb than Philips's 8.5W non-dimmable bulb.  This bulb's 11,000 hour lifespan prevents it from being Energy Star rated.

Philips 9.5W SceneSwitch (Home Depot)
This is a great new innovative bulb from Philips.  You can't use it with a dimmer, but you don't need it.  Switch between 100%, 40%, and 10% just by turning the light on and off.  Or, choose their model that changes colour temperatures and switch between 2200K, 2700K, and 5000K.  If you want to switch between colour temperatures or don't have a neutral at your switch to install a trailing edge (ELV) dimmer, this is a great option.  It is not Energy Star rated, unsure why though.

Feit 9.5W 2700K Enhance High CRI (Canadian Tire)
We find it difficult to visually tell the difference between 80 and 92 CRI, but our test equipment could.  It is suitable for use in fully enclosed fixtures. This excellent bulb was disappointing only in its greater-than-average electromagnetic interference.

Philips 8.5W 2700K non-dimmable (Home Depot)
This bulb is only rated for an oddly specific 10,950 hours instead of 25,000+ like much of the rest of the bulbs we tested.  However, this is offset by its lower power consumption and lower purchase price.  The bulb appears slightly more red than tungsten bulbs so doesn't match perfectly, but is still pleasing to look at.  This bulb produces a barely perceptible buzz, but is imperceptible from more than a foot away.  Also has a slight flicker upon turning on, but then is flicker-free.  Its lifespan prevents it from being Energy Star rated.

You may notice this list is smaller than last year's.  Cree LED bulbs are no longer available in Canada, the Noma bulbs we liked are no longer available and have been replaced by bulbs that have received generally poor reviews, and the Sunbeam bulbs are no longer available (but were replaced at Costco by Luminus)







Using a Zoom H1 recorder to record audio with a pro sound board

April 4th, 2017 No comments

This is our procedure for using a Zoom H1 recorder to record audio from a pro sound board.

Connect the recorder to the sound board.  We used a female XLR to male 1/8" TRS cable.  Connect some headphones to the recorder.

Set the recorder to input level 16.  Set a comfortable listening volume level (for us this was 40).  The reason to use input level 16 is that this is the point at which the peak light most closely matches when audio is actually distorted.  Any lower, and the peak light may not flash when audio is distorted.  Any higher, and the peak light may flash erroneously.

Play the loudest audio you expect to use for your project and adjust the output of your board so that the Zoom H1's peak light does not flash and audio is not distorted.

If you have a dynamics processor, you may wish to stop here.  If not, you may wish to use the Zoom H1 as a rudimentary dynamics processor.  Increase the Zoom H1's input level.  (Note that this will make the peak light inaccurate - you cannot rely upon it at any level other than 16.) The Zoom H1 has an internal limiter, but it is only effective if audio did not peak at level 16.  Try an input level of 25 or even 35, and listen to the results.  This should result in some minor compression, i.e., soft parts of your recording being slightly louder, and brief periods of high volume not being overpoweringly loud.  However, this comes with the downside of the peak light no longer being accurate (so you won't know if audio is distorted until you play it back).

How to fix "Windows cannot load the user's profile but has logged you on with the default profile for the system."

February 11th, 2017 No comments

1) Boot to Safe Mode.

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Setting up QoS for VoIP on Tomato routers

January 17th, 2017 2 comments

A question we're asked often is, "Why do I need QoS?"  If your VoIP calls already sound every bit as good (or better) than a POTS call, and you never have dropouts or distorted audio, then you don't need QoS.  On the other hand, if you're a heavy or even moderate user of your internet connection, and you aren't lucky enough to have more bandwidth than you can ever use, it is our opinion that QoS is essential.

The best way we know to use Tomato's QoS system is by rate limiting.  That is to say, when we're done, you will have a slight decrease in speed for regular internet traffic.  However, you should be able to make VoIP calls with perfect audio quality.  We admit that these rules are strict, though they are that way for a reason: we want the non-essential traffic to slow down before the link becomes saturated.  In other words, you sacrifice speed for low latency and jitter.  If they cause too great of a speed decrease for you, you may wish to start with these, verify you have good audio quality, and then relax the rules as appropriate for your specific situation.

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How to cook salmon perfectly and quickly

January 11th, 2017 No comments

Roast salmon tastes good, but takes a long time, and it takes even more time to clean your roasting pan afterwards.  Poached salmon doesn't take much time, but has a soggy consistency.

Solution: poach the salmon, then broil it.  Mango writes:

I poach several pieces of frozen wild-caught salmon for 8-10 minutes, covered, in an inch of simmering water.  Then I place them in a lightly-oiled baking pan, season them, and broil for five minutes, checking often to be sure they don't burn.  The result is divine: the taste and texture of a perfectly-roasted piece of fish in 15 minutes, and neither pan scorched, so washing them was no trouble at all.

Operation costs of Instant Pot vs Gas Stove

December 19th, 2016 No comments

Recently, Mango used an Instant Pot for the first time and immediately became enamoured with it.  Pressure cooking is pretty convenient for a few reasons.  Sometimes it's faster than stovetop cooking, you never have to worry about your pot boiling over, and if you follow the directions, you don't have to worry about scorching.

Having an analytical mind, Mango was curious what cost more to operate: the electric Instant Pot, or a natural gas stove.

Mango measured the natural gas and electricity consumption used to cook equivalent amounts of rice and multiplied it by the cost of the utility.  The results: $0.0165 for the Instant Pot and $0.0126 for the gas stove.  While the gas stove is cheaper per minute, it's insignificantly so.  Also, remember this is based on one person's utility bill, and one recipe.  The results could easily be the other way around, particularly if pressure cooking a recipe takes significantly less time than stove cooking to achieve the same results.

How to withdraw CAD or USD from your Skrill account

December 14th, 2016 No comments

A company owed Mango a non-trivial sum of money.  After much effort, he finally convinced them to pay him...but they insisted on using Skrill.

For the non-Europeans, Skrill is a payment service much like PayPal, but popular in Europe.  Unfortunately, it's not popular in Canada or the USA, and Mango does not regularly do shopping in Europe.  So he needed to transfer the funds from Skrill to a Canadian bank account.  While possible, Skrill only does wire transfers to Canada, and, only in Euros.  This means that Mango would have to pay two currency conversion fees and two wire fees (sending and receiving).  All together this totalled about 9% of the balance.

Instead, Mango used his Skrill account to buy Bitcoin from a British dealer called Cubits.  He then transferred the Bitcoin to a Canadian dealer called QuadrigaCX.  He sold the Bitcoin for US dollars (QuadrigaCX also sells Canadian dollars but he needed US dollars for this project) and transferred them to his US dollar account at a Canadian bank.

The cost?  If Mango had sold the Bitcoin immediately upon transferring it to the Canadian dealer, 5%.  More than it should be in 2016, but less than the cost of a wire.  Since Mango is frugal, and Bitcoin was going up at the time, he waited a while before selling his Bitcoin, making the cost of the transfer zero.

This is not a recommendation nor endorsement for either of these Bitcoin dealers, just a report of success from one customer.

Now let's look at what it could have cost if the company had simply purchased Bitcoin, leaving Skrill out.  The least expensive way to fund a Cubits purchase costs 0.8%.  QuadrigaCX charges a 0.5% commission on the sale.  For approximately 1.3%, you can send funds from Europe to North America quickly, easily (once you know how), and securely.  If, unlike Mango, you don't have to pay for currency conversion, a wire transfer becomes cheaper around the $2000 mark.  One day, when everyone carries a Bitcoin balance and converting from local currency to Bitcoin is a thing of the past, funds transfers will be nearly free.

We're deliberately leaving details out of this post, because this is not something that should be attempted by someone who doesn't know what they are doing.  For example, you should know how Bitcoin works, what a wallet is, and how to secure it.  If you don't, the concepts are not hard to learn with a little research.  If you do, it's worth it to consider Bitcoin as a method of transferring funds internationally.

WooCommerce event ticket sales report

December 14th, 2016 No comments

For several years we've been using WooCommerce for general admission event tickets.  For this we've been using an open source ticketing system.  It works, sort of.  The number of bugs we have to find and fix increases at every show.  The most critical one we found this year was a bug that displays show times incorrectly.  This is problematic for obvious reasons.  When we reported this to the company's developers, their suggestion was to stop selling tickets until after Daylight Saving's Time.  This plus many other annoyances led us to decide to reinvent the wheel.

We dispensed with the plugin, and decided to use only the built-in features of WooCommerce with a custom report that displays the order for each product (show).  This custom report proved to be somewhat of a challenge - WooCommerce's documentation is ridiculous at times - but we're more confident in our code than the barely-working plugin we were using before.

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Let's Encrypt and cPanel's AutoSSL plugin is a winning combination

December 10th, 2016 No comments

When Mango first tried to use Let's Encrypt, he overthought it.  He expected to obtain and install an SSL Certificate in the traditional way.  He couldn't really remember what that was, because he doesn't do it often enough.  He would eventually figure it out, just as he had every other year.

He heard Let's Encrypt was great, but its website didn't make it seem like that.  He had to install and run scripts on the web server?  (Nope. Preinstalled.) The certificates were only valid for 90 days?  (That's ok; keep reading.) Why couldn't they just issue certificates like every other issuer?  (Because they're better; keep reading.) Did his cPanel server support Let's Encrypt?  (Yes!) Probably not, as he couldn't find the user interface for it.  (There isn't one.  There doesn't need to be.)

Let's Encrypt has done possibly more than any other company in recent memory to improve internet security.  Mango discovered this when he found...a Let's Encrypt certificate was already installed on the domain in question.  cPanel noticed the old certificate about to expire, and automatically applied for, received, and installed a new certificate before Mango got around to it.  If you administer a website on a cPanel server that has AutoSSL enabled, you have a domain-validated SSL certificate.  No cost, no strings attached, no catches.  The future is here, people.

Want to force users to use SSL?  Replace example.com with your domain name and put this in your .htaccess:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{SERVER_PORT} 80
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://example.com/$1 [R,L]

Samsung Galaxy S5 SM-G900T - fix "Set Warranty Bit : recovery"

November 26th, 2016 No comments

After a failed firmware upgrade, our SM-G900T refused to boot.  Its screen read:

RECOVERY BOOTING...
RECOVERY IS NOT SEANDROID ENFORCING
Set Warranty Bit : recovery


Attempting to boot to download mode by pressing and holding Volume Down, Home, and Power caused the phone to reboot, but return to this screen.

The fix was to remove the battery, then press Volume Down, Home, and Power, and insert the battery while these three keys were pressed.  It took some effort to do all at the same time, but was possible.

The device then booted to download mode and we were able to use Odin to reinstall the stock firmware which we obtained from Samsung-Updates.com.

Tests of Asterisk Proxying Audio

October 28th, 2016 Comments off

Yesterday, we wrote an article about how to remove Asterisk from the media path if NAT was involved.  Today's article focuses on why you would want to do such a thing.  The answer depends on the specifications of your project.  If your project requires Asterisk to listen for DTMF, record the call, transcode between codecs, or any other feature that involves audio processing, Asterisk will need to proxy the audio.  If that doesn't apply, here are some reasons why you might not want Asterisk to handle the audio:

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Asterisk directmedia and NAT

October 27th, 2016 No comments

Recently we were vehemently told it is impossible to remove Asterisk from the media path if there is NAT involved.  Naturally, we had to find out if that was wrong.  It is absolutely possible, and here are a few ways to do it.  These observations are based on experiments with Asterisk 11.

In order for audio to travel directly to the phone, bypassing Asterisk, one of two things must happen:

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We conducted 15 tests on LED bulbs and dimmers

October 13th, 2016 No comments

We conducted tests on our top five dimmable LED bulbs, two of the most popular LED dimmers, and one ridiculously hard to find electronic low voltage dimmer.

Lutron 153PLeviton 6674Leviton 6615
(ELV; requires neutral)
Philips 9.5W Warm GlowBarely perceptible buzz.  Very minor flicker between 30% and 60%Barely perceptible buzz.  Slight "whine" could be heard in a quiet room.  Very minor flicker at 30% only.  Dims up to full brightness somewhat slowly.
This is a good combination, if you can't find an ELV dimmer or you don't have a neutral.
Silent.  No flicker.
Best choice!
Feit Enhance 9.5WModerate buzz.  Very minor flicker below 33%.Moderate buzz at 33% only.  Barely perceptible buzz otherwise.  Flicker.Barely perceptible buzz.  No flicker.  ~1/2 second delay to turn on while dimmed.
Good choice, but Philips Warm Glow bulbs are cheaper and perform better.
Sunbeam/L'Image 9.9W (High CRI)Moderate buzz.  Very minor flicker between 25-50%.Moderate buzz.  Very minor flicker between 25-50%.Silent.  No flicker.  ~1 second delay to turn on while dimmed.
Good choice, if you don't mind the startup delay.
Noma 3000K 8.5WModerate buzz.  Very minor flicker below 33%.Barely perceptible buzz.  Flicker below 50%.Silent.  Very minor flicker below 33%.
Cree 4Flow 10WModerate buzz.  Flicker.Moderate buzz.  Flicker at 66% and below 33%.Silent.  Very minor flicker below 33%.

As you can see, our Lutron 153P did not perform well with any of our bulbs.  We don't usually return products to a store after damaging the packaging, but there was no other way to open it, and the dimmer didn't perform worth crap.  So, back it went.

The Leviton 6674 universal CFL/LED dimmer really only performed well with our Philips Warm Glow bulb.  It looks great.  The sound is mildly annoying in a quiet room, but if you don't have a neutral at your switch box and can't use an electronic low voltage dimmer, this is the best combination we have found.

The Leviton 6615 trailing-edge electronic low voltage dimmer performed extremely well with our Philips Warm Glow bulb, and very well with our Feit Enhance and Sunbeam bulbs.  Unfortunately this dimmer is no longer available at both Rona and Canadian Tire and we've had no success finding replacements.  If you know where to get them in Canada at a reasonable price, please let us know in the comments below.  Note: electronic low voltage is not the same as magnetic low voltage.

2016 A19 LED bulb power consumption tests

August 6th, 2016 No comments

We've always been curious if LED bulbs' power consumption is as advertised.  The answer is generally yes, with one exception that we've found so far.  Read on to see the results of our tests, and a video of our testing method.

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T8 LED vs A19 LED - a lumen-for-lumen cost comparison

July 30th, 2016 No comments

If you're installing lights in a garage, storage room, or other place where the look of the physical fixture is unimportant and you just want good quality light, read on.  Today we decided to compare the cost of operating two T8 LED tubes with the cost of operating enough A19 bulbs to provide the same brightness.

5.5 Luminus A19 bulbs, total 4400 lumens (Costco)$12.38
Basic light fixtures ($1.99 box + $1.79 lampholder, Lowe's)$20.79
Initial cost$33.17
1.5 replacements$18.56
5.5*8W for 50,000 hours at $0.11/kWh$242.00
Usage cost$260.56
Total$293.73
2 Luminus T8 LED tubes, total 4400 lumens (Costco)$26.99
Basic troffer (includes ballast, Home Depot)$54.98
Initial cost$81.97
36W for 50,000 hours at $0.11/kWh$198.00
Usage cost$198.00
Total$279.97
Upfront savings of using inexpensive A19 bulbs$48.81
Long-term (50,000 hours) savings of using T8 tubes$13.76

Notes:

We expect the cost of a 4-tube fixture to be less than double the cost of a 2-bulb fixture.  However, we were not able to find power consumption figures for this configuration.

This comparison assumes the cost of new components.  If low cost is more important than asthetics, it should be trivial to find an old T12 fixture for cheap, remove its ballast, and replace with an electronic T8 one, for less than the cost of a new troffer and ballast.

This does not consider the cost of labour to replace the A19 bulbs 1.5 times.

T8 LED and Fluorescent Cost Comparison

July 24th, 2016 No comments

Trying to decide whether to retrofit your T12 fixtures with fluorescent or LED?  Perhaps this cost comparison will help.

T8 Ballast (Westburne)$14.46
2 Philips T8 fluorescent tubes (Westburne)$6.00
Initial cost$20.46
1 set of replacement tubes$6.00
54W for 50,000 hours at $0.11/kWh$297.00
Usage cost$303.00
Total$323.46
T8 Ballast (Westburne)$14.46
2 Philips T8 LED tubes (Westburne)$21.98
Initial cost$36.44
36W for 50,000 hours at $0.11/kWh$198.00
Usage cost$198.00
Total$234.44
Upfront savings of using inexpensive fluorescent tubes$15.98
Long-term (50,000 hours) savings of using LED tubes$89.02

Using these numbers we can calculate the breakeven point to be approximately 5050 hours - significantly below the 50,000 hour rated lifepsan of the bulbs and ballasts.  In other words, after slightly over 10% of the components' rated lifespan, you will save money.

This does not consider the cost of labour to replace the fluorescent tubes one time.

Some guy did some great tests of 2-bulb 4' tube light power consumption

July 24th, 2016 No comments

Comparison of Philips InstantFit T8 LED and Philips T8 Fluorescent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enqAfX1pb80

T12 Fluorescent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RzAABBcduw

tl;dw:
T12 Fluorescent (2 bulbs) - 90W
T8 Fluorescent (2 bulbs) - 54W
T8 LED (2 bulbs) - 32W

Cree makes light bulb that doesn't suck as much, green tech blogger nonplussed

December 25th, 2015 No comments

If nothing else convinces you that Mango is open-minded, this will.  It's an actual positive review for a Cree light bulb.  Well, it's not exactly a positive review, but it's not a vehemently negative review either.  Still astonishing.  We'll wait while you pick yourself up off the floor.  Then, we'll continue.

The first thing you'll notice is that Cree's new 4Flow bulb sports an interesting heat dissipation design: ventilation holes in the top and bottom of the bulb.  But, forget that.  The light produced by this bulb looks actually good.  For once, a Cree bulb won't be relegated to our outdoor fixtures where we don't have to see it much, or simply not used at all.

Light quality: Very good.  We could not tell the difference between this and an incandescent bulb.

Light quality when dimmed: Very good.  The bulb dimmed smoothly with both our Leviton 6615 (trailing edge) and MACL-153M (leading edge) dimmers.

Buzz/hum: None detectable.

Buzz/hum when dimmed: Very low.  It is unlikely the bulb would be heard in a quiet room.

RF interference: Like Cree's other bulbs, this bulb produced a mild amount of electromagnetic interference.  However, when we moved our radio several feet away, the radio worked properly.

Notes: The bulb's packaging does not prohibit its use in fully enclosed fixtures.

Price: $10.97 at Home Depot Canada.  This bulb's relatively high purchase price makes it the most expensive bulb over 10,000 hours that we have tested.



Best Buy Customer Service

December 21st, 2015 No comments

We almost never shop at Best Buy, until they have a deal that's too good to pass up.  Then we remember why we almost never shop at Best Buy, and the cycle starts over.  Most recently on Black Friday, they had a TV for 40% off that fit the exact specifications of a TV we needed for a project, so we bought it.  After many tries over half a day, we were able to check out.  Astonishingly, the TV was shipped as scheduled and arrived without incident.

Then we tried to obtain a receipt for the order, as required for our audit purposes.

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Philips 9.5W Warm Glow LED Review - if you want a dimmable LED with no buzz and no flicker, read this

October 26th, 2015 No comments

Recently we worked on a project requiring dimmable LED light.  Not only did the lights need to be dimmable, but the project also had the following requirements: the bulbs and dimmer must be silent, there must be no visible flicker, and electromagnetic interference must be kept to an absolute minimum.  We tested nine bulbs from five manufacturers, on both leading and trailing edge dimmers, and the combination of Philips' 9.5W Warm Glow LED with a Leviton 6615 (trailing edge) dimmer was THE ONLY combination that satisfied all the requirements.

Light quality: Very good.  We could not tell the difference between this and an incandescent bulb.

Light quality when dimmed: Excellent.  The bulb dimmed very smoothly with no flicker using both our leading and trailing edge dimmers.  Not only that, its colour temperature changed slightly just as incandescent bulbs do.

Buzz/hum: None detectable.

Buzz/hum when dimmed, Lutron MACL-153M (leading edge) dimmer: Barely perceptible.  It is unlikely you would hear the buzz in a quiet room.

Buzz/hum when dimmed, Leviton 6615 (trailing edge) dimmer: Completely silent.

RF interference: It was difficult to detect electromagnetic interference, even with a meter.

Price: $11.98 at Home Depot Canada.

Maximum Image Size - WordPress Plugin

September 24th, 2015 No comments

Sometimes, it's not necessary to keep copies of full resolution images on your web server.  But, when you solicit images from many sources, you may not be able to rely on users to size images to your specifications.  Here's a very simple plugin that removes the full resolution image and replaces it with an image resized to your preference.

The plugin makes no changes to your database and is written with just 17 lines of code.

Installation:

1) Download the plugin: Maximum Image Size
2) From with in the WordPress Admin Panel, Navigate to Plugins >> Add New >> Upload Plugin.  Upload the file you just downloaded in step 1).
3) Activate the plugin.

Configuration:

This plugin has no configuration.  It works based on the Large image size, a configuration option which already exists in the WordPress core.  You may configure this by navigating to Settings >> Media.

Tip: If you do not wish to retain a Medium image, set both Max Width and Max Height to 0.

I have a new hobby, and it's making ice cream

July 28th, 2015 No comments

...because that seems like a reasonable thing for a 30-year-old man to do for his hobby.

Mangosteen bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker off Kijiji some time ago, but I only tried it for the first time this week.  The verdict: heaven in a dessert cup.  I made up the recipe by myself and the result is without question the finest ice cream I've ever tasted.  It even scoops just like hard ice cream from a store.



Keep reading for the recipe used to make the ice cream shown in the picture above.

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Review: 2015 Philips 60W Replacement LED

June 11th, 2015 No comments

On a recent trip to the United States, we made a special trip to Home Depot to pick up some of Philips' new 60W Replacement LED bulbs.  These bulbs don't have a special brand name like the SlimStyle does, and Philips has several 60W Replacement LEDs.  The ones we bought were the ones just released this spring, at the time on sale (USA only) for an astonishing $4.97 for a pack of two.

This bulb is incredibly affordable.  We've calculated that at its current sale price and with our use, we'll only need to use it for five weeks before it becomes cheaper than an incandescent bulb.  While we've no complaints about new technology being affordable, we hope that Philips will maintain its reputation for quality, and that cheap bulbs that last for a decade or more will be profitable.

Here's our review of the 2015 Philips 60W Replacement LED.

Light quality: Good.  We could tell the difference between this and an incandescent bulb, however, the light produced by this bulb was still pleasing.

Light quality when dimmed: Not supported.

Buzz/hum: Barely perceptible.  It is unlikely you would hear the buzz in a quiet room.

Buzz/hum when dimmed: Not supported.

RF interference: No problems detected with equipment on frequencies from 500 Mhz - 2.4Ghz.

Price: $9.97 for a pack of two at Home Depot in Canada.  Note: The per-bulb cost in some bulk packs of this product is higher than small packs.  Shop carefully.

Other notes:
- The bulb's low cost comes from its estimated 10,950 hour life and lack of support for dimmers.
- The bulbs are manufactured in China.

DIY Windshield Stone Chip Repair

March 27th, 2015 No comments

Did you know that DIYing a windshield stone chip repair is cheap and relatively easy, with results just as good as or better than the professionals?  Why spend $50 or more when you can do it yourself for 1/5 of the price?

If you can read and follow instructions, (and if you can't - look for Permatex's YouTube channel) you can repair a stone chip in your windshield - both to improve the appearance, and prevent the chip from turning into a crack.  The kit we use is the Permatex Bullseye Windshield Repair Kit.  Not only do the results look great, our oldest repair is over a year old and shows no signs of cracking.  Take a look:



On the left is the chip before repair.  In the middle is the repaired chip.  On the right is a professionally-repaired chip for comparison.  As you can see, the repair that we did reduced the appearance of the chip by two thirds or more.  With smaller chips, the repair is completely invisible.

While the product's performance is excellent, our only complaint is that there is just 0.025 fl. oz of resin included in each kit.  The included tools are all reusable (clean while still wet with acetone or rubbing alcohol) and thick and wide double-sided tape is easy to find.  If anyone knows where to buy more resin, let us know.

Convert audio files to ulaw for use with a VoIP PBX

January 21st, 2015 2 comments

Converting high quality audio files to ulaw is easy, but making them sound good takes some effort.  Keep reading for the technique we use.

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